In this dissertation we explore the use of service level agreements (SLAs) to improve the quality and management of software intensive systems. SLAs are typically used in outsourcing contracts for post-production support. We propose that SLAs be used in software acquisition to support quality and process control throughout the lifecycle (requirements engineering through post-production support) of a software-intensive system. The hypothesis was tested using two methodologies. The first method explained how SLAs could be used throughout a system's lifecycle to improve software quality. This concept was validated by a survey of IT professionals. The results of the survey indicated that practitioners in the IT field felt that SLAs could be used to improve overall quality in the development effort and in the end product. The second approach was to develop actual SLAs for a specific lifecycle phase (post-production) to illustrate the concepts of SLAs and to demonstrate their value as a quality control and management tool.